Finance Committee, December 2017

December 30th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
Dec. 11, 2017

Members Present: Committee members Nancy Moore (chair), Sean Malone, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen member Linda Lalley. Citizen member Martin Kolb was absent
Others present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Planning Director Joyce Braverman, Public Works Director Patricia Speese, Administrative Assistant Gail Little

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 7:33 a.m. Ms. Moore said that she will submit some edits to the minutes of the Nov. 20, 2017, meeting. Ms. Lalley moved to approve the minutes with edits, Mr. Malone seconded, and the edited minutes were approved

Agenda—Committee actions:

Ms. Braverman presented her recommendation to approve a contract for public art implementation services from LAND Studio for $43,000. Implementation services will include curation of public art for two separate projects in the Van Aken District, artist research and selection, implementation and construction of public art, payment of artist design fees and expenses, and public input. LAND Studio is the only local company to bid this project; all other bids came from out of state at significantly higher cost. The Planning Department has $43,000 in the Special Services operating budget for this project. The city Planning Commission, at its Nov. 8, 2017, meeting, recommended approval of this request. Ms. Moore said the funds come from the $2.3 million Van Aken District Public Art Plan. Mr. Williams asked who was running this project. Ms. Braverman replied that the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) is running the project; they have models and designs for this work.

Mr. Williams noted he is familiar and comfortable with CUDC. Ms. Lalley asked if LAND will manage the project. Ms. Braverman answered that LAND will manage the artist and the artist will be local. Mr. Malone asked Ms. Braverman to describe the spaces. Ms. Braverman gave examples of spaces: the corner of Chagrin & Warrensville, the “living room” park, the Walgreens “walk through,” and murals on various walls at 8-10 locations throughout the larger Van Aken area. Mr. Malone inquired if the city decides locations. Ms. Braverman answered the city art committee decides locations and selects art, after public meetings. Mr. Williams asked if the art will be distinguished. Ms. Braverman said the art will be labeled. Ms. Moore asked why the art is important. Ms. Braverman remarked that art differentiates the Shaker community. Mr. Zimmerman remarked that art creates a personal space. Mr. Williams moved to recommend to council the approval of the project, Ms. Lalley seconded the motion, and the motion was approved by the finance committee without dissent.

Ms. Speese presented her recommendation for approval to waive formal competitive bidding and enter into a contract with Madden Brothers in the amount of $58,345 for the disposal of brush, grass and leaves for a period of one-year (2018). The 2018 budget has the funds available for this contract. Shaker Heights entered into an agreement with Sagamore Soils for the disposal of yard waste (including leaves, brush and grass bags) at their facility. Employees of Sagamore Soils inspected our semi-truckload and found an excessive amount of trash, including large plastic recyclables, glass, and other nonorganic material. Sagamore Soils abruptly ended accepting yard waste from some cities, including Shaker Heights, in July 2017. Shaker generates a significant amount of yard waste, much more than many other cities, which intensifies the problem for companies that accept yard waste. The public works department’s grass bag collection crew now has to open every grass bag on the tree lawn to check for trash; obviously this is extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. If a bag is contaminated with trash, the bag is left on the tree lawn; in 2018 a sticker will be placed on the bag stating that it is contaminated.

Ms. Moore commented that Public Works takes a beating, as they are a servant for residents. Past experience indicates a public education campaign is necessary. Residents are placing many trash items in grass bags, at significant cost. The city now has a $250,000 disincentive to accept any yard waste for recycling into compost or mulch. Shaker does not now pass this disincentive on to the resident violators and there is no fine on violators. Mr. Zimmerman asked for some clarification on the bidding process for this project; did the city ask for competitive bids? Ms. Speese answered that the city could not find anyone who would even bid. Every community has this problem. These companies will only accept our yard waste after we have screened it, at significant labor cost. The trash ruins their processing equipment.

Mr. Zimmerman said the city has a communication problem with the public. Ms. Moore thinks the problem is due to carelessness rather than lack of education. Residents are not paying attention. The county is considering a “plastic bag initiative” to eliminate use of plastic bags by charging a disincentive bag fee at the retailer. Ms. Lalley said that the discussion of fines disturbed her. Was this presented as an option to the Safety & Public Works committee? She would accept a fine for violators but suggested a return to accepting only Shaker label bags as an option [to raise money to cover some costs]. Mr. Zimmerman asked if this was only a one-year contract. Ms. Speese confirmed it was one year only. Mr. Zimmerman asked if other companies were considered for following years. Ms. Speese answered that the city was considering using the city-owned property in Bedford to use for yard waste. Mr. Zimmerman emphasized that Public Works must make clear to Council what other solutions are being considered for following years. Mr. Malone asked if this problem also applied to the loose leaf loading. Ms. Speese confirmed that all yard waste, including loose leaf waste, went into the same transfer trailer. Mayor Leiken said that public works needs to recommend a larger and longer term solution rather than stop with this one-year solution.

Ms. Moore said that it’s a daunting process to educate residents; it will require many different communications. Mr. Malone said he supported a fine for violators—they should bear the costs imposed. Mr. Zimmerman agreed with violator fines. Ms. Moore said the cost should be presented as a fee. Mr. Leiken asked if the contamination is easy to identify. Ms. Speese replied that every yard waste bag must be opened and sometimes manually sorted in order to remove contaminates, and therefore any contaminated bag is not accepted. The resident often does not understand why the bag was left on the tree lawn and complains to the city, which is the reason for placing a “contaminated” sticker on bags in 2018. Mr. Leiken asked when the city stopped requiring the Shaker labeled bags. Ms. Speese replied that had been several years ago.

Ms. Moore then summarized the request. Mr. Williams moved to recommend to Council the approval of the project, with a stipulation that the contractor report on the results, Ms. Lalley seconded the motion, and the motion was approved by the finance committee.

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:05 am.
Frank Goforth

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